Skip to comments.Woman Kicked Off Flight After Accusing Pilot of Drinking
Posted on 08/04/2010 8:49:31 AM PDT by Atlas Sneezed
A Toluca Lake woman was recently kicked off a Delta Airlines flight after reporting that she thought she had smelled alcohol on the captain's breath.
Cynthia Angel said the incident occurred on July 19 as she was trying to travel home to Southern California from Georgia. She had just spent two weeks visiting her son, an actor, who was shooting a movie near Atlanta.
Angel, 51, said the trouble occurred after she and three other passengers had a brief conversation with one of the pilots of Delta Airlines Flight 2355. She learned later that the pilot was actually the captain of the flight.
"The flight had been delayed almost an hour," said Angel. "We were in the jetway waiting to get on the flight when the pilot walked by us and I jokingly said, 'Boy you had been here a long time.'"
Angel said the captain spoke to her and the three other passengers. After he walked away, said Angel, another passenger asked if they had smelled alcohol on the pilot's breath.
"A gentleman standing behind me asked, 'Did anyone smell that? It smelled a little like vodka,'" said Angel. "We all agreed that he did smell alcohol, but we didn't know if he had been drinking or what we should do about it."
Angel said she volunteered to talk with the head flight attendant once aboard the plane.
"I told her that I didn't know what protocol is, but I believe I smelled alcohol on one of the pilots' breath," said Angel.
Angel said the flight attendant immediately talked to another pilot who was in the cockpit getting ready for departure.
"He asked me to come inside the cockpit, where he shut the door and asked me about my conversation with the pilot in the jetway," said Angel. "I told him what I had told the flight attendant; that other passengers and I thought we had smelled alcohol on the pilot's breath."
Angel said the pilot informed her that it was the captain of the flight who spoke with her. He assured her that the captain had not been drinking.
"He said he had been with the captain for several hours before the flight," said Angel. "I was satisfied with the pilot's explanation, thanked him and returned to my seat."
But Angel said that 20 minutes later, a Delta Airlines manager came aboard the flight and asked her to follow him off the plane.
"The manager wanted to hear what I had told the flight attendant," said Angel. "He then told me the captain took a test that proved he did not have anything to drink."
Angel said the manager then thanked her and she returned to her seat on the plane. At this point, she thought it was over.
"About 20 minutes later, the Delta manager returned with a female colleague and they asked me to gather my belongings and follow them off the flight," said Angel. "I was so embarrassed."
Angel said she followed them back into the airport. She was lead into a nearby office where she was told again that the pilot had tested negatively for alcohol.
"They told me they take these accusations very seriously and that the captain and his crew did not want me on his flight," said Angel.
Angel said Delta gave her meal and hotel vouchers, and said she could come back in the morning to take another flight back to Los Angeles.
"All I did was voice my concerns," said Angel. "I wasn't a threat to anyone and for them to remove me was wrong."
"I understand airlines have to have protocol," said Mark Silverman, Angel's Beverly Hills-based attorney who Angel contacted to look into the incident.
Silverman said his office has called and written Delta Airlines for a response and to ask the airline to open an investigation into the incident.
"She was just trying to be a good citizen. You'd think Delta would thank her for her concern," he said.
NBCLA also contacted Delta Airlines for comment. Susan Elliott from Delta's corporate communications office sent this response via e-mail: "Once we have reviewed Mrs. Angel's letter and investigated her claims, we will follow-up with her on our findings."
"Making drinking accusations against pilots is a serious matter," said Ross Aimer, CEO of Aviation Experts, LLC.
"If you think someone is drunk, you owe it to yourself, your loved ones and other passengers to report it," said Aimer, who is also a retired United Airlines captain. "However, in this case, because the captain had not been drinking, Delta made the right decision by asking her to leave the plane."
Aimer explains that in situations like this, flights usually end up delayed or canceled because the captain will take himself off the flight.
"It's an either you or me situation," said Aimer. "She had to go because the captain has his crew and hundreds of other passengers to think about."
Aimer adds that if he found himself in a similar situation, he'd do the same thing.
"The issue of pilots and drinking has become a very big deal, and accusations like that could end your career," Aimer said.
Hand sanitizer, probably.
Vodka does not smell.
I thought you couldn’t smell vodka on breath.
Sounds like the pilot might have a nice slander lawsuit against her, with plenty of witnesses and a breathalizer test to back him up. She would have done better to keep her head down. Seems she was looking for a lawsuit and now she may well fine one. Against her.
I think it would have even be more traumatic for her to be forced into flying the same aircraft. ; )
“They told me they take these accusations very seriously and that the captain and his crew did not want me on his flight,”
Touche. I wouldn’t want her on my flight either after accusing me of something like that. It would be like having to see a person who screamed rape and then after it was found out that didn’t happen you would have to drive them somewhere. No thanks. There are many other flights to get on.
Vodka doesn’t smell.
"Say Jimmy, you ever had a vodka martini?"
Could’ve even been original Listerene.
It’s likely there is more to the story than this.
She may have been making a loud fuss, complaining openly to others about her fears, causing anxiety, and possibly refusing to back down when confronted with evidence.
I bit like shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater. She may even believe it herself, but chaos and panic is still the result.
“Vodka does not smell.”
True, by itself it doesn’t have a very strong smell, but if someone drinks, they have alcohol breath ... the metabolites from the alcohol give you a really funny smell on your breath. When you start drinking, the alcohol’s being absorbed and being metabolized ... but ketones don’t get metabolized. They’re in your blood, and your blood and your lungs exchange — that’s how you breathe — and these things will come out in your lungs, and you’ll be breathing them for hours. So there’s no way to cover it up and totally fool everybody all the time after a certain point .. the woman might have had an alcoholic in the family ... when you are raised with a vodka drinker, you know what it smells like from a mile away.
As one who grew up in the household of an alcoholic parent whose main drink was vodka, thinking no one could smell it on his breath, I will assure you that the only one who cannot smell the vodka is likely the one who drank it.
“I thought you couldn’t smell vodka on breath.”
You can’t, unless it’s been drunk within the last minute or so.
Some doctor once told me that you aren’t smelling any particular liquor on someone’s breath, you’re smelling the oxidized alcohol being expelled from his body.
Sounds like someone may be trying to throw a monkey wrench into the works of the airlines by trying a new tactic. (For what reason, who knows.)
Bah, if I was the captain, I wouldn't want that miserable harpy on my flight either. Does the man now have a report to the FAA that he was suspected of drinking? She threatened his ability to earn a living. Get on a new flight bitch.
Just maybe, he had been drinking?
LOL at your tagline!
In that case she needed to leave the plane anyways so she could take it up with the people who administered the sobriety test to which the Captain voluntarily submitted.
How would you like to be married to her? "Where have you been?" "Is that smoke I smell?" "Is that lipstick on your collar?" "Who left the seat up?"
Does Vodka have an oder?
How so? Neither the son’s name nor the name of the movie
is mentioned in the story, text or vid.
I thought you couldnt smell vodka on breath.
Sounds like the pilot might have a nice slander lawsuit against her, with plenty of witnesses and a breathalizer test to back him up.
If they can have breath test ignition interlocks for two-bit drunk drivers, why not have them on multi-million-dollar aircraft?
Her witnesses? People who she says said they could smell vodka? She slandered him to his co-pilot and his employer. That is enough for liability. He has a nice slander lawsuit against her. The “impressions confirmed by others” is non-germane.
Well, I agree, I would have never boarded the plain and I would have been at the gate demanding the flight be stopped and the pilot tested.
Busy, Busy, Busy.
So, Ted Striker had a drinking problem and he still landed the plane.
If the report is accurate, then three different people smelled what seemed like liquor on the pilot’s breath.
Taking punitive action against someone who is trying to do the right thing is wrong.
This is like taking punitive action against a whistle-blower. It causes folks to be fearful about reporting something that could endanger others, or that involves criminality.
If the woman did cause a scene, and wouldn’t accept the results of the test for alcohol, I can see the need to remove her. Otherwise, they should have thanked her and moved on.
Some pilots do drink. It’s a sad reality, and it needs to be reported if suspected.
We don’t know what transpired in the cockpit. We don’t know what story the two pilots agreed on.
I don’t think this woman is the only person who could have been gaming this situation.
What the Pilot should have done is come back to her seat
shook her hand and said “Well Done”. Had he done that, this
would not even be a story.
By kicking her off the plane, it was the Pilot and the airline
that made this into a story, not her.
Vodka definitely smells. I’ve always thought it funny that people believe that it doesn’t.
Should could have easily contacted the FAA and had that flight grounded until the pilot was checked out. The lives of the people on board combined with the number of pilots that do drink means she should have contacted the FAA.
“Vodka doesnt smell.”
Yes, it does. That little urban legend is just that. Alcohol has a smell.
She slandered him to his co-pilot and his employer.
“What the Pilot should have done is come back to her seat
shook her hand and said Well Done. Had he done that, this
would not even be a story.”
Exactly. She now is the one that can sue the airline and Delta Airlines takes a hit. People will only remember that Delta had a drunk pilot and tried to shut a person up for saying so, even if the pilot was not drunk the story will still be remembered that way.
Yes, I am just a dumb$hit. Know nothing about the law. Uh huh.
Yes, I am just a dumb$hit. Know nothing about the law. Uh huh.
“I believe I smelled alcohol on one of the pilots’ breath,””
That is not slander.
“The pilot is a drunk”, would be slander.
Too bad he wasn’t Foster Brooks:-)
Accusing an airline pilot of drinking REQUIRES a test, and guarantees a significant delay. There are NUMEROUS other opportunities to catch offenders. When passengers start doing this on their own. you can kiss goodbye ever arriving at your destination. It is the equivalent to saying the wood “bomb.”
Try that next time you fly.